Meet our Academy Consultants – Selwyn Njini

man explaining something to colleagues in a meeting

Read about Sel’s transition from the Ten10 Academy to his current role in PMO

The Ten10 Academy offers a range of training for anyone from any background. Take Sel, who worked in accounting before beginning his training. We sat down with him to learn about his journey through the Academy, what work he’s completing with his client, and how he’s still learning different aspects of technology every day.

How do you feel you’ve transitioned from the Ten10 Academy to your client work?

I feel like I’ve transitioned quite well from the Academy to client work, because the Ten10 Academy gave me a good foundation of knowledge that I could then apply to my client side (for example: development, software testing and agile). This definitely made it easier to understand what and why these things were brought up within a work environment, specifically PMO, that I’m currently working in for an insurance company where we have multiple software projects running at a time.

Often in my role, I have to find out more details about what requirements might be needed for resourcing and financing, so if there’s a project plan, for example, how many developers are you going to need to test? Where is that work going to fit within the timeline? Having that knowledge from the Ten10 Academy is very useful because you understand where and how everyone fits within the process.

Take us through your placement, where are you currently working?

So I’ve worked with multiple clients and I’ve specifically managed the resourcing and functions of PMO. I have to work with a finance business partner and finance operations, in terms of the cost that project managers have monthly. I also work with the underwriting team because that’s quite big within the company I’ve been placed in. I have to have contact with them [to know] how they manage their resources [and] to have links towards projects that we currently run. I would say most departments because you’re going to need different aspects of each department in anything we’re doing. For example, you might need business analysts on the project, but then on the flip side, you might need a marketing team, or a technical wording writer for how you’re going to describe the product that you’re putting out. So there are a lot of different areas that I’ve had exposure to and got to meet loads of lovely people within those teams.

What parts of the Ten10 Academy training have been most useful in your placement?

I enjoyed a lot of different things that we learned in the Academy but the most useful ones I would say were the history of technology and learning about agile and waterfall methodologies. I also enjoyed what I learned about databases because I use that in my day-to-day work. Having that additional knowledge on top of what I already knew from my previous work as an accountant gave me greater insight, to be able to use those skills to help me succeed in my placement.

I think overall the Ten10 Academy was very good by just giving us that foundation knowledge to be able to tackle the tech industry even if we haven’t had exposure to it before.

What is a normal working day or week for you?

So for me, my weeks tend to vary quite a bit, but there are always lots of meetings with different stakeholders depending on what the agenda is for the week. Within PMO there are many different aspects – for example, status reports might be due so you’d have to speak to different project managers to ask them to get their reports and their feedback, and these would then go into forums or board packs to report back on how the project is doing. There’s also the aspect of the finance and budget requirements for the project, so checking in with PMs to see if they’re still on track to see if their costs have come through.

Some weeks there are resourcing requirements. Across the business, we just make sure products are working and the projects that we have are resourced, looking at the data around that to make sure there are no arising issues. Overall my weeks do vary quite a bit but I tend to plan ahead and just do what I need to do as and when it becomes essential for me to complete that task.

Have your roles and responsibilities changed during your time on placement?

Yes, they have! When I first started they started me slow, so they gave me easy tasks to build me up and help me gain more confidence within the role and what I’m doing. As time progressed they gave me more responsibility and I branched out to do more things. Currently, I’m on the social committee with the placement I’m in and I suppose that’s not more work commitment, but it’s just something I’ve taken up in the organisation to meet more people and to see what other stakeholders I can speak to that I wouldn’t in my normal day-to-day.

What technology, tools, frameworks, and processes have you gained experience with since starting client work?

I would say a lot of the things that I’ve done on the client side are skills that I already had, but I have had some exposure to Power BI recently, helping me to visualise data in different ways. That’s useful for presenting back to stakeholders who might need to have data in a certain format to be able to get what they need from it in the way that’s best for them. Because the PMO unit I’m working in is quite new, all these new technologies that would help aid us to be more efficient, are still in the process of development, so we’re heavily relying on Excel currently. However, I’m looking forward to being able to use the new tools when they do arrive, So it’s just a journey at this point.

How has your client supported your development?

I’ve been lucky that my team is quite small, so I have bi-weekly one-to-ones with my manager and we also have a team meeting every Friday where we’ll discuss what we’re working on, how it’s going, and if we have any blockers. We also do sessions based on our self-development, so we’ll say “This is what I want to achieve in the next three months and these are the milestones in place for me to do that” and we each work towards our own goals collectively and individually, so we can see as a team where we can make improvements and be more efficient in the processes we’re running. I’ve had a lot of self-development while in this placement and I think I’ve really grown as a person, I’m learning things all the time and I’m very very happy currently.

What support have you received from Ten10 during your placement?

Ten10’s been very helpful as well. I’ve been able to reach out to the relevant people whenever needed if there is something that I need help with in terms of clients. We have courses that we can do to help us improve our understanding, and people who might be working in the same fields as us that we can reach out to and they might have a solution on how they’ve sold the problem in the past.

I think Ten10 is a very good support system and it provides a network of other professionals working and similar careers where you can get advice all the time. They’ve been very supportive throughout my journey and I’m very thankful for that. I also have to include the Wellbeing team because they are always there to respond to any queries I might have and sometimes you take it for granted, but it’s very appreciated what they do for everyone.

Have you been given any extra opportunities through your client work?

Last year there was a charity day that we did, where we volunteered to raise money for disabled people, working with a cricket club. Some professionals for the England team came down and that was quite interesting to be involved in it. Also just to give back to the community and do some good work. It was a very different experience, as I’m not into cricket too much but it was nice to see how it was played, and I saw people that the people in the community looked up to or some of my favourite players when I used to watch cricket years ago. It was a very good experience.

What advice do you have for people considering applying to the Ten10 Academy?

I would say do it! If you want to put yourself outside of your comfort zone, try something new, and challenge yourself, then I would definitely say apply. I think it’s the best thing that I’ve ever done, as I’d worked previously before this, and I got a lot more job satisfaction and enrichment in what I do currently.

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